Gotham is back, and how I have missed it!
The back half of Season 4 opens with a fast-moving episode that brings us up to date on just about everyone. The title is reflective of the story (yes, I’m going there). The mid-season finale shattered the lives of these characters we’ve come to know and love. The spring premiere starts to pull those pieces back together.
But even if you glue a shattered mirror back together, its images are forever changed.
We’ll break this down by character.
We’ve always known Alfred was a bit rough around the edges, but seeing him living in the Narrows after being fired is a little surprising. Apparently no one else in Gotham’s upper crust needs a butler with SAS training.
Or maybe Alfred just isn’t interested in working for anyone else. He still holds the memory of Thomas Wayne very dear, and loves Bruce like a son. So he remains in the worst place in Gotham, where in the course of this episode we see him:
- Nearly get mugged by a bunch of thugs
- Play the hero after an explosion (more on that later)
- Lift a celebratory glass with those aforementioned thugs
- Make a connection with a very kind waitress who has an abusive boyfriend
- Get framed for the waitress’ murder by the aforementioned boyfriend
The murder rap doesn’t stick, of course, thanks to another Gotham favorite. (More on Harvey Bullock coming up.)
Alfred is hanging on, but his fight with that abusive boyfriend shows us he’s hanging by a thread. We know he will go back to Wayne Manor eventually, but we have to wonder how much the Narrows will change him first.
The Narrows has changed Lee, and not just in the sense of her appearance. She has become a leader and a crusader, urging the people of the Narrows to stop preying on each other so they can make the neighborhood a better place.
Somebody doesn’t like that idea – and they target Lee for assassination via toy plane bomb, causing the explosion I mentioned. The incident finally, finally brings her back into Jim Gordon’s orbit. We’ve been waiting for this reunion all season, and it was exactly what you would expect to see from two people who’ve loved each other and hurt each other the way Lee and Jim have. They are guarded, but Jim’s worry for Lee shines through.
So does his respect for what she is trying to do in the Narrows. Lee is not going to give up her crusade, and while Jim may question her choice of Ed Nygma as a partner, he’s not going to try to stop her.
The episode opens with Jim looking for his old partner – in a brothel. Like Alfred, Jim is feeling a bit adrift these days, unhappy over the means of his promotion, unhappy over the loss of his best friend. Investigating the explosion and then the murder of Alfred’s waitress friend gives Jim something to focus on other than his search for Harvey. JIm’s investigation also brings him into contact with Barbara, another loss he still feels – even if Barbara is batshit crazy.
Feeling adrift doesn’t seem to affect Jim’s investigative abilities, though. He and Lucius are able to track down the plane bomb to the Toymaker, another classic Batman villain. While the original Toymaker doesn’t survive the episode, we’re led to believe his son will eventually become the Dark Knight’s adversary.
Jim does eventually track Harvey down. Unsurprisingly, Harvey is tending bar. (I called that one back in November. Not that it was all that hard a call to make.) Now, bartenders have a reputation of being confessors for their customers. And Harvey plays that role for Alfred. But he’s not willing to play that role for Jim. Neither is he willing to take back his badge.
Jim is on his own. Hopefully not for long.
On the other hand, Lee has a partner in Ed Nygma. Or so she thinks. Although she admits he’s not her first choice, in a sequence that’s both funny and painful since we know Ed has fallen for her.
Unfortunately, Ed has an unpleasant partner lurking in his head – the Riddler. And the Riddler is managing to break loose. He is the one who hired the Toymaker to kill Lee.
As Ed says, “That is so Gotham.”
In the mid-season finale, Tabby managed to literally beat Butch’s memories back into him, but left before finding out she’d succeeded. In 4×12, she learns that it worked. Butch remembers being shot by Barbara and believes something happened to him in the swamp, but doesn’t know what.
More importantly, Butch remembers he loves her. But Tabby hesitates. He takes that as a rejection and tells her goodbye.
She doesn’t stop him.
It will be interesting to see what Gotham does with this version of Solomon Grundy; all the strength and apparent deathlessness of the comics character paired with Butch’s knowledge. While Butch was never the sharpest knife in the drawer, he’s also been dangerous – which could mean trouble for Ed.
The Sirens – and Bruce Wayne
The Sirens’ Club is once again open for business, and business is booming thanks to a TV ad campaign reminiscent of the 1-900 phone ads of the 90s. Probably doesn’t hurt that women drink for free, while men… don’t.
Running a tab is not a problem for Bruce the Billionaire Brat, who is still spiraling out of control. But he’s not a “valued customer” to Barbara and Tabby, who don’t like the way he’s breaking up their glassware. And Selina’s not fooled by his act. But she quickly has something bigger to worry about – an unfamiliar face with a familiar attitude.
I’ve saved the best for last. We haven’t seen Ivy Pepper since episode 4×02, when she swallowed a variety of Chinese herbs and started some kind of transformation. Ten episodes later, Ivy emerges from a sort of chrysalis, completely changed. Not just because a different actress is playing the role (and Peyton List is marvelous as this new and improved Ivy). This version of Ivy is much smarter than the previous one.
And… she’s poison. Literally. Some weird substance now runs through her veins that poisons anyone who gets it into their blood. And after they’re dead, poison ivy starts growing inside the corpse. We get to see an eerily cool example of this at the GCPD medical examiner’s office.
We almost get to see Selina become another example. After recognizing Ivy at the club, she follows her and gets treated to a sample of the poison – followed by a dose of an antidote Ivy created herself.
Like I said, this version of Ivy is smarter, and refuses to be underestimated or ignored ever again. Especially not by Selina’s fellow Sirens.
Will Selina take Ivy’s invitation of, “Let’s make Gotham our bitch?” I think so. Selina’s proved herself to be the smartest of the Sirens, and one who will take the path that gives her the best advantage. Barbara and Tabby have only been using her as a “bouncer” for the club. She can probably do better with Ivy.
Last fall I predicted a cat fight in 4B; it looks like it will be a good one.
Who we didn’t see
This episode was so packed, they couldn’t get all of the characters in. That’s actually a good thing; it’s difficult to get good development in huge ensemble casts and you have to be willing to leave some characters out or use them very sparingly (as they did with Bruce) in order to get the most out of what you do use.
“Pieces of a Broken Mirror” was missing a few shards: Sofia, Penguin & Victor. But the preview for next week promises Penguin’s return – and the return of Jerome.
This is gonna be good!
Gotham airs Thursday nights at 8/7 Central on FOX.